Straight from the creators of the groundbreaking Matrix trilogy, this collection of short animated films from the world's leading anime directors fuses computer graphics and Japanese anime to provide the background of the Matrix universe and the conflict between man and machines. The shorts include Final Flight of the Osiris, The Second Renaissance, Kid's Story, Program, World Record, Beyond, A Detective Story and Matriculated.
Featuring nine animated shorts set in and around The Matrix, written and directed by the cream of Japanese anime creators, with the Wachowski brothers' blessing, The Animatrix arrives with a weight of expectation similar to Reloaded.
However, while it's visually sublime - a magical mystery tour of animation styles- it doesn't fully deliver. Overall, the disc is debilitated by story issues and an overwhelming number of downbeat endings, which place it far from the cathartic exhilaration of the original movie.
The Wachowskis themselves penned The Second Renaissance Part 1, a beautifully designed look at life pre-Matrix, using a faux newsreel style to chilling effect as the machines rise.
Dark-edged, brutal and less smoothly styled, The Second Renaissance Part 2 shows those machines creating The Matrix.
Program - the most truly manga-fied effort - is a love story set in Medieval Japan; artistically startling, but less profound than it thinks it is.
An athlete breaks out of the Wachowskis' wonderland through sheer willpower in stylized short World Record. Bouquets for its strange, angular art; brickbats for a confusing story.
A Kid's Story, on the other hand, is suffused with a dream-like quality, as Clayton Moore (who appears in Reloaded and Revolutions) tries to escape The Matrix with Neo's help.
Until a climax which betrays the internal logic of The Matrix, Detective Story is by far the best of the shorts - a spot-on black-and-white noir about a detective enlisted to find Trinity.
Beyond (a group of children exploit a glitch in The Matrix) is slight and atmospheric; while Matriculated (outside The Matrix, humans reprogram a machine) is a visually stunning, frankly hallucinogenic trip which out-Kubricks 2001.
Lastly, The Final Flight Of The Osiris, the much-vaunted precursor to Reloaded: a triumph for CG photorealism, but the story is wafer-thin.
Verdict - Though undeniably beautiful, overall, the disc is debilitated by story issues and an overwhelming number of downbeat endings, which place it far from the cathartic exhilaration of the original movie.
Silver Pictures, Madhouse, Studio 4°C, DNA Productions, Warner Bros. Pictures by Peter Chung, Andrew R. Jones, Yoshiaki Kawajiri, Lilly Wachowski, Lana Wachowski.
Stars: Kevin Michael Richardson, Pamela Adlon, John DiMaggio.
Genres: Animation, Action, Adventure
Keywords: artificial intelligence martial arts hacker post-apocalyptic future virtual reality dystopia cyberpunk alternate reality matrix anime collection of short films action hero supernatural power
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