– Summary –
Director : The Wachowski Brothers, Koji Morimoto, Shinichiro Wantanabe, Mahiro Maeda, Peter Chung, Andy Jones, Yoshiaki Kawajiri, Takeshi Koiki.
Year Of Release : 2003
Principal Cast : Voices of Kevin Michael Richardson, Pamela Aldon, Tom Kenny, Julia Fletcher, Clayton Watson, Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hedy Burress, Phil LaMarr, John DiMaggio, Victor Williams, James Arnold Taylor, Melinda Clarke.
Approx Running Time : 8 @ 10 minutes, 1 @ 20 minutes
Synopsis: Nine short animated films, set within the world of The Matrix, expands and explores the narrative established by the Wachowski’s vision. One part, Final Flight Of The Osiris, links directly to The Matrix Reloaded.
What we think : Mind boggling, powerful, confusing and stylish, The Animatrix is perhaps the ultimate way of extending the Matrix franchise beyond the three-film core. Each short film is animated differently, each story takes us somewhere new within the Matrix concept, and all are undoubtedly remarkable for their breadth of scope and style. If you enjoy the Matrix Trilogy, then The Animatrix is essential viewing.
From the Matrix Music Vault: Juno Reactor – Conga Fury: Juno Reactor – Conga Fury (Animatrix Mix)
The early 90’s saw quite creative burst from the erstwhile Wachowski Brothers, Larry and Andy. After the success of The Matrix, and with Warner Bros giving them the GDP of Spain to develop two sequels, the Wachowski’s also seconded the idea of a series of short animated films set in the same world, to be released online in staggered build-up for the premiere of The Matrix Reloaded in 2003. A bold venture, to be sure. The Animatrix, named so because it’s animated and set in the Matrix (duh!) ended up as a set of 9 short films, 8 of which run to 10 minutes, and the last, running some 20 minutes, and each expanding on the Matrix universe in a variety of ways. In this article, we’ll give you a brief rundown of each short film, and our thoughts on it. Each film was originally released online, before ending up on DVD (and now BluRay) as a collected set, allowing any fan of The Matrix saga to fully experience this amazing, stunning world to its fullest.
Episode 1 – Final Flight Of The Osiris
Released as last of the series online, and presented first on the DVD and BluRay releases, Final Flight Of The Osiris is a CGI animated piece set directly between The Matrix and The Matrix Reloaded. The Osiris, a human ship piloted by Captain Thadeus and his female companion Jue, discover the plans of the Machines as they commence digging towards Zion. Persued through the tunnels beneath the surface, Jue enters the Matrix to send a message to the rest of the humans before they are destroyed. The short has an opening set-piece involving a sexy, come-hither sword fight between Thadeus and Jue, a training programme if you will, which brings us straight back into the gravity defying world of the Matrix films. The animation is excellent, with fairly realistic human movement approximated by the studio that, at the time, had recently worked on similarly-looking Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. The tone and language of the Matrix films is inherent in every frame, and there’s enough mind-bending Matrix-world stuff going on to make the viewer salivate for the live-action material the Wachowski’s were about to unleash.
Episode 2 & 3 – The Second Renaissance, Part 1 & 2
The opening salvo in one of the greatest adult animations ever filmed, The Second Rennaisance represents a biblical styled exploration of the history of The Matrix world, from man’s downfall to the machines to our eventual fightback. Told via a “computer” narrator, who links events in our not-too-distant-future to those represented in The Matrix, this often gory and violent short (and it’s immediate follow-on) is simply mind-blowing in every way. The imagery is iconic, the parallels between theological ideology and human historical influences are layered into every element of the story, wrapped in a dark, depressing layer of implacable fact. More traditionally animated than Osiris’ CGI style, Second Rennaisance is superbly realised, captivating and shocking entry into the Matrix franchise.
Episode 4 – Kids Story
Setting up Clayton Watson’s skittish Kid character in the Matrix sequels, Kid’s Story is an absorbing look into just how the Kid was “rescued” from his Matrix coffin by Neo – the major contributing factor in the Kids devotion to him later on. The animation is highly stylized, perhaps not entirely classical to Western audiences unfamiliar with the style of Kazuto Nakazawa, the man responsible for the look of the piece. Asian animation fans will hardly bat an eye, but the less accepting audience may be thrown by the flowing, constantly moving animation style and it’s unhinged, somewhat fluid movement across the screen. Check out the episode below…
Episode 5 – Program
Effectively a character study of a woman in a training program inside the Matrix (or is she?) and something of a love story. Closer to traditional Manga than any of the other shorts, Program is a quality stand-alone entry into the series thus far.
Episode 6 – World Record
A professional athlete, in his quest to be the best ever, accidentally opens up a crack in the Matrix – with astonishing results.
Episode 7 – Beyond
There’s a fracture in the Matrix – a group of kids stumble onto it in an abandoned house. Watch the episode below.
Episode 8 – A Detective Story
The only episode to feature Trinity within its framework, a beaten down city gumshoe tries to locate the mysterious “Trinity” via a computer connection much like Neo did in the original Matrix. According to online sources, A Detective Story is set immediately prior to events told in The Matrix, however, it strikes me that anybody attempting to watch the entire Matrix franchise in chronological order with no prior knowledge of what’s going on will have their head explode trying to figure it out. Animated like an homage to the old black and white pulp detective films of years past (you know the kind, with the hard-bitten detective not wanting to take on the case given to her by a “blond broad” with sex written all over her), Detective Story is unlike any animation we’ve seen before. Dark and foreboding, highly stylized and entirely cool, this short film brings us more of Trinity kicking ass – and who wouldn’t want to see that. A melancholy reflection on the transience of life and fate, Detective Story is one of the better entries into The Animatrix.
Episode 9 – Matriculated
Of all the short films contained in The Animatrix, Matriculated is the most bizarre and hard to fathom. At least for me it was, because this story goes to places visually that defy all logic. Matriculated tells the story of a machine finding a group of rebels, who then capture the machine and attempt to reprogram it – leading the one female survivor to experience a “relationship” of sorts with said machine. A fifteen minute acid trip of a coupling between the Machine’s avatar and the human avatar as they explore the Matrix seems a little overwhelming, and in truth, I began to feel more alienated with this short than any of the others combined, so those of you with a disregard for abstract animation (like that found in Pink Floyd’s The Wall) will perhaps nod off during this one. Still, the animation itself is incredible, a marvelous mix of traditional hand-drawn style and cutting-edge CGI, making Matriculated one of the more cerebral elements to be found in The Animatrix.