OldKingClancy posted a MOVIE REVIEW item: 23 days ago

The Animatrix


Directed by: Peter Chung, Andy Jones, Yoshiaki Kawajiri, Takeshi Koike, Mahiro Maeda, Kouji Morimoto, Shinichiro Watanabe
Written by: Larry Wachowski, Andy Wachowski
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Carrie Anne Moss
Studio: Warner Bros.
Genre: Action
Official Site: whatisthematrix.warnerbros.com/index_anime.html
Plot: How Deep Does The Rabbit Hole Go?


To put it out there at the start of this review, I’ve never been a big fan of The Matrix, I’ve watched it a number of times and I’ve enjoyed it on an entertainment level, but the sci-fi philosophy stuff just goes over my head and I can’t connect with it on that level. I think that’s why I don’t hate the sequels, cause I don’t understand what they’re on about it doesn’t matter as much that they’re talking out their ass. I still wanted to see The Animatrix though partly because the idea of a Japanese Anime based on a Western Sci-Fi Actioner inspired by Japanese Anime was too confoundingly funny not to check out, but mostly because I do like the world The Wasichowski’s invented and I believed there to be more than just Neo’s story in the whole thing.

As Animatrix shows, while a mixed bag this turned out to be true.

The film is an anthology set across nine short films detailing life before the events of The Matrix and a number of incidents where man and machine clashed. In essence it’s an expansion on the trilogy that covers similar thematic ground but being able to see more of this world from the eyes of regular people did offer some interesting insights with the animation allowing for more impossible styles to fit right into the Matrix universe.

The first story; Last Flight Of The Osiris, sets things up nicely by tying directly into Reloaded following the crew of The Osiris as they discover the machines’ plans to directly hit Zion and their suicide mission to warn the others. On the whole this opening is short and bittersweet, existing to ease us back into this universe and to show off some of the technology, animation wise the CGI is fairly plain – though decent ass physics I’ll give it that much – compared to the rest of the stories but watching lead character Jue effortlessly parkour her way around an electric station is pretty impressive.

The two part second story; The Second Renaissance, was much more in-line with what the film was trying to offer. Chronicling the events that triggered the war of man vs. machine, what starts as the moral implications of an artificial intelligence killing it’s owner in self-defence and the Court’s ruling of an android not having the same rights as a human evolves into a mass resistance and eventual departure of all androids to their own sovereign nation, Zero-One. However all attempts to broker peace with the humans is met with hostility and eventually war, a war the machines win.

While all of this is explained in The Matrix, robots revolt, blacking out the sun, humans used as batteries, seeing it all fleshed out like this shows a more morally grey history than you’d initially think with the humans being utter dicks to the machines and in turn, the machines cold, emotionless experiments on the surviving humans to use them as an energy source. Like Osiris, the animation is fairly standard anime but with the focus on the story, the simplicity can be forgiven.

Kid’s Story is one of the weaker entries story-wise but makes up for it in the animation and for its direct tie into the trilogy. Telling the story of Michael Popper, Kid from Reloaded with hero worship for Neo, and how he escaped the Matrix without the need to ‘wake up’. This portion essentially becomes a chase scene which is where the hand-drawn animation ties nicely into the kinetic theme of the story, however following on from Second Renaissance and focussing on a forgettable and annoying character from the original trilogy marked this one down.

Program had the potential to be the most interesting, the character of ‘Cis’ trains in a simulation of feudal Japan where she meets her lover ‘Duo’ and the two spar until Duo starts insinuating that he wants to return to The Matrix and return to a peaceful life. The implication that being ‘awake’ is not the life for everyone is an strong concept and had this section had more time to explore it then I think it could’ve done something with that. As it stands it’s a nice discussion piece with a highlight on the fighting and an animation style that highlighted the feudal backdrop with strong reds, blacks and yellows.

World Record started weak, following Dan Davis, a track athlete who lost his chance at the world record because of a doping scandal and set out to break his own record to prove them wrong despite his training telling him that running would destroy his muscles. It takes a little while for things to kick in and the black, white and yellow style of the animation doesn’t seem all that interesting. But when Dan started to break free of the Matrix through pain, endurance and sheer force of will, that’s when the short got interesting, changing the yellow to green to showcase Dan becoming aware of the matrix and then from green to red to show him waking up is simple but very effective and once again, the implication allows for more discussion of just how far the human mind can stretch within the simulation.

Likewise Beyond doesn’t have the best start, focussing on a young woman looking for her lost cat and following a group of boys to a supposedly haunted house. However once at the haunted house this section gains momentum, because rather than being haunted, the house is a literal glitch in the matrix with physics defying stunts and impossible events all taking place within the walls of the house, using the mix of animated character and CGI backdrops to utilise the strangeness of it all. Aside from the first innocent look at living in a simulation through the eyes of unaware children - and being the only light story in the whole anthology – the dark ending where the Agents take control of the situation and fix it is another interesting idea of just how far this can go and how often they’ve had to do this sort of thing before.

A Detective Story is probably the best outside of Second Renaissance, the combination of pulpy crime and cyberpunk worked a lot better than I would’ve expected and the inclusion of Trinity to tie it all together didn’t hurt. The basis of the story is a P.I. tasked with looking for Trinity but it works in its execution, using typical noir tropes to tell the story right down to its black and white animation and a bittersweet ending that fits in nicely with the universe. It works as a short but I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of this.

Sadly the last story; Matriculated, is the worst. Set sometime long after the war the focus is one a small group of humans who trap machines and plug them into their own version of the matrix to try and convert them into their allies. At least that’s what the wiki summery says, to be completely honest the whole sub-matrix thing was too fucking bizarre and nonsensical to even enjoy let alone make sense of. Which is a shame because the in-world sections were good and the themes of free-will, choice and even the idea of love are all well thought out, the jut lacked the necessary establishment to make them work.

I’d definitely recommend The Animatrix more to people who’ve seen and enjoyed the original trilogy, it’s expansion of the world and of the themes are worth looking into and the different styles of animation keep it from going stale. It’s let down by some lesser portions and to be completely honest 9 films is too many but overall it’s a fine addition to the franchise.



Other reviews of this film: Hubbs (7/10) > Display all

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